Leveraging Digital Resources and Training for Small Business Growth and Community Benefit

Executive Summary

AS THE BUSINESS WORLD DIGITIZED over the last decade, GoDaddy identified a pressing need: Small businesses in underserved communities needed help creating a digital presence. Research made clear that bolstering these businesses — especially microbusinesses — would promote equity and economic inclusion in low-income and minority communities. GoDaddy Venture Forward Initiative, a multi-year research effort to quantify the impact of 20 million U.S. microbusinesses on the U.S. economy, found that microbusinesses need technical assistance, what AEO calls trusted guidance — training, tools, and access to networks — to establish and improve their websites, e-commerce capabilities, and digital marketing strategies.

In 2017, this insight prompted GoDaddy to partner with leading nonprofits to roll out Empower by GoDaddy, a community-based program to bring digital marketing expertise to microbusiness owners. A year later, GoDaddy joined up with Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO), the leading voice of innovation for microfinance and microbusiness, to expand the program nationwide. With a mission to create economic opportunity for underserved U.S. entrepreneurs and a history of engineering transformational change through
research, convening, incubation, and advocacy, AEO was in a good position to help GoDaddy provide small
and microbusinesses full-surround support. The expanded Empower program reached entrepreneurs in their communities across the U.S., providing them with resources and guidance to improve their digital skills. To
best reach underserved demographics in rural and urban including veterans, women, people of color, immigrants, refugees, seniors, and members of the LGBTQ community — the program partnered with business support organizations (BSOs) to deliver the program’s training, tools, and resources.

In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic made the need for training on digital tools and capabilities for small
businesses all the more urgent as shoppers turned to e-commerce, digital marketing gained more prominence, and more everyday business tasks had to be done remotely.

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